The holiday season is upon us once again. It’s time for the Black Friday sales and shopping for that perfect gift for your loved ones. That said, it can also be a time where we see more criminal activity. While these practical tips are useful all year long, extra vigilance amidst the holiday frenzy is always a good idea.
When you’re in busy areas like shops, malls, craft fairs, and other high traffic venues, practice healthy safety precautions and stay aware of your surroundings and the people near you.
Shop during the day and try to avoid peak shopping periods, if you can. If possible, shop with family or friends if you plan on making multiple purchases, as a companion can help manage shopping bags and deter thieves. While dining, be sure to tuck your bags between you and the wall of the booth or under your feet at the table.
Another way to help ensure your items stay safe is by not leaving your valuables in the cart. Wear your purse across your body, wallets in a front pocket, and consider shopping with only the credit card you intend to use. Alternatively, contactless payments – using your cellphone – can possibly be safer to use than a credit card. Some apps will tokenize the credit card number, so if the vendor is hacked your card number may not be stored. If you must withdraw cash, use well-lit ATMs or get “cash back” at the register, and put it away immediately.
When it’s time to head back to your car, consider asking for an escort if you are carrying valuable items, many bulky packages, or if you feel someone may be watching or following you. Malls and many larger chain stores have security or other personnel who perform this service upon request.
When arriving at your car with your purchases, always be aware of your surroundings. Choose a well-lit area, as close to the store as possible, where you can easily be seen and heard if you do need help. If your state allows it, consider carrying pepper spray as an extra security measure.
As you park, pay attention to the cars on both sides. Are the vehicles occupied? If it does not “feel right”, don’t stop. Drive away and park elsewhere or do your shopping another time.
Never leave any valuables in the car, visible to passersby. Remember to secure all shopping bags, packages, and valuables in the trunk. Always roll up your windows and lock your car doors.
On the way home, if you feel you are being followed, do not return to your residence. Instead, drive to a safe, well-lit location (police or fire station, busy gas station, etc.). Stay in your locked car and call 9-1-1. Once you’re home from your shopping trip, take your purchases inside right away. Lock your car and the door to your home.
Guard your privacy when shopping online and only use sites you know. Check online reviews for possible scams, and look for the “lock icon” next to the URL. Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi. For an added layer of security, you may want to look into utilizing a VPN.
Rather than entering your credit card information into sites, using services like PayPal can help keep your card and banking information secure.
SafeCities™ wishes you a happy, and safe, holiday season! Follow our blog for more safety tips this holiday season.